Marian Catholic Announces 2011 Hall of Fame

Michael Bruni, Sr. Dorothy Marie, Tim Swanson Michael Bruni, Sr. Dorothy Marie, Tim Swanson. (PHOTOS SUPPLIED)

Ceremony and Award Dinner set for February 17, 2011 at Olympia Fields Country Club

Chicago Heights, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The Marian Catholic High School community will celebrate the achievements of its four remarkable Hall of Fame Awardees on Thursday, February 17, 2011 at Olympia Fields Country Club.

The 2011 Marian Catholic High School Hall of Fame Awards honors the accomplishments and endeavors of Michael Bruni ’86 as Alumnus of the Year, Tim Swanson ’86 as Athlete of the Year, Dr. Adam Brennan ’82 for Fine Arts Distinguished Achievement, and Sister Dorothy Marie Solak, O.P., Spirit of Marian.

Established in 1994, the Marian Catholic Hall of Fame honors alumni, parents, faculty and friends who distinguish themselves in their chosen field, and recognizes their contributions to their home communities, their church, or within the Marian Catholic community. By exemplifying the Dominican tradition of unselfish service to others, this year’s class of inductees have embodied and upheld the school’s motto, “Teaching Scholars with a Soul." 

Having inducted 79 distinguished Marian Catholic alumni and friends into the Hall of Fame over the years, the 17th Annual Marian Catholic High School Hall of Fame Award Ceremony promises to be a night of celebration and surprises for the community. For reservations to the Marian Catholic Hall of Fame on February 17, please call the Advancement Office (708) 755-6579.


This award honors an alumna/alumnus who has contributed outstanding and distinguished service in his/her chosen profession and who reflects honorably on Marian Catholic High School.

Michael Bruni ’86

LaGrange, Illinois

Partner, Laurus Strategies

The Marian experience for Michael Bruni ’86 began long before he walked the halls as a student. Starting at the age of eight, Bruni was a ball boy for the Marian football team and his path was set. Marian became his second home.

“I vividly remember riding in the Savoia’s supply truck that carried all the football pads to the away games. We would follow the player’s bus to our destination and help everyone with their stuff,” Bruni said. “I remember counting down the years until my best friend, Mike Feminis, and I could actually wear a uniform versus just carrying them for others.”

Once at Marian, Bruni distinguished himself as a leader and athlete who played football, baseball and basketball, but most importantly, one who lived the Marian spirit.   

“I think the charism of Marian is something that, if embraced will contribute to a student’s success and happiness regardless of whatever field they go into,” Bruni said. “I think the difference at Marian is the charism that is transcended from the Dominican Sisters of Springfield. I think the whole concept of VERITAS, if embraced, will follow a student in whatever field they pursue.”

For Bruni, his own professional development as a leader in non-profit management began at Marian while on Student Council and with Operation Snowball, a statewide leadership program for high school students. In later years, he would serve as President of the organization and help open chapters in five states, as well as international sites in Poland and in the Netherlands.

On advice from former guidance counselor Ron Centanni, who encouraged him to apply to Purdue University, Bruni did and was accepted.  His involvement in politics at Purdue and continued involvement in statewide leadership programs helped propel him to his first job with Parkside Medical Services in the marketing department. 

From Parkside he began working with the Illinois Department of Substance and Abuse. It was then when he made the leap to Development and came back to his roots at Marian Catholic as the Vice-President of Advancement in the late 1990’s. He became a business owner with a partner he met through MCHS. Today, he is a partner with Laurus Strategies, a national consulting firm that specializes in all aspects of business development, Bruni’s specific business line remains committed to the non-profit and government affairs arena. 

“My whole field, development, is all about relationships. The relationships I formed at Marian taught me incredible lessons about being true to myself and to others. The modeling the Springfield Sisters displayed about taking care of others taught me a great deal about our responsibility to each other…Whether or not one embraced these teachings, you were surrounded by them while at Marian, those lessons were invaluable” Bruni said.

Throughout the years, Bruni continued to remain close to Marian, its students, missions and goals and became a popular speaker in youth leadership and has been invited to speak at several leadership conferences and retreats. 

“My Marian relationship and experience hasn’t stopped and it’s one of the primary relationships I have; I feel very fortunate for having Marian in my life,” Bruni said.

Bruni and his family live in LaGrange and are members of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church.


This award honors the accomplishments of an alumna/alumnus or staff member who has participated in the Marian Catholic High School Athletic Program and has achieved a high level of recognition in athletics, either professionally, collegiately, or at Marian.

Tim Swanson ’86

Chicago Heights, Illinois

Safety Director/Risk Manager, Meade Electric

Tim Swanson and his then fiancée, Stacey, were planning to marry in 1993, but the planning had to work around the Spartan football season; as both had anticipated a winning season for the Marian football team.

“We had to plan our wedding around the football season, and scheduled the wedding for the week after the state championship” Swanson said, who at the time was assistant varsity football coach, working with defensive backs and special teams.

The football team did go onto win the IHSA Class 4A state championship and the Swanson’s had their wedding as planned.

Marian athletics have always been an important part of Swanson’s life. A two-year varsity starter for the Spartan football team and a three-year starter for the Spartan baseball team, Swanson earned All-Area selections for both sports. He also played on the Spartan basketball team earning two varsity letters.

As a student at Indiana State University, Swanson received Varsity Letters in both baseball and football, and played third base and catcher in baseball and defensive back in football. 

After he finished his collegiate career, while trying to find a job and attending grad school, he came back to Marian and applied for a football coaching position, but none were available. Three weeks later, Coach Dave Mattio offered him a defensive coordinator position for the freshman football team. In 1992, he was moved to assistant varsity football coach and is now assistant varsity football coach, defensive coordinator, and linebackers coach. In the meantime, he obtained a job in the safety department for Meade Electric.

Once again, Marian became an integral part of Swanson’s life.

“My kids have grown up at the school and have run around the football field since they could walk, pretty much knowing every player by name…MCHS was a family where I felt I was, and am, always welcome,” Swanson said.

Beyond his coaching commitment, Swanson, Ed Ziltz ’80 and Jim Dee ’80 founded the Tail Power Classic golf outing which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2011, as well as a Texas Hold’em fundraising event (co-chaired by his brother, Rob Swanson ’91) which is held every January in the Leadership Center. The events raise money for Marian Athletics.

“Over the years, it has become a way for us to help the athletic program and encourage alumni to return to the school family,” Swanson said. 

In addition, Swanson and the Tail Power crew helped with building the new Bergstrom Fitness Center, from demolition to installing floors, lights and equipment, honoring former football coach, Physical Education teacher and Marian Hall of Famer Bob Bergstrom.

  In 1999, Swanson completed his graduate degree in Occupational Safety with honors, which he utilizes in his current position as Safety Director/Risk Manager for Meade Electric.

For Swanson, coaching is a year-round commitment, scouting on weekends, going over game tapes, being in the weight room and running sports camps during the summer.  

Swanson and his wife live in Chicago Heights with their two children, Patrick and Reilly Jo. Patrick is a student at Marian Catholic and Swanson is the Athletic Board President at his parish, Infant Jesus of Prague in Flossmoor, where Stacey teaches and Reilly Jo is a student.


This award honors the achievements of an alumna/alumnus or staff member in the Fine Arts – drama, art, music, broadcasting and choral. A nominee should have achieved a high level or recognition in his/her particular field.

Dr. Adam Brennan ’82

Wellsboro, Pennsylvania

Director of Bands, Mansfield University

From a young age, Dr. Adam Brennan had set his sights on joining the military and following in his older brother’s footsteps. But all that changed on the very first day of band practice at Marian Catholic High School. 

“I knew from the first time that I saw Greg Bimm (MCHS Band Director) that I was going to be a band director,” Brennan said. “The very first day that I watched him conduct and saw how he got the sound out of the musicians, well, it was just inspiring.”

That inspiration led Brennan to become one of the East Coast’s influential band directors. Today, he is Director of Bands at Mansfield University in Pennsylvania, where he conducts the top wind ensemble, writes all musical arrangements and coordinates the staff of the marching band and serves as coordinator of undergraduate and graduate instrumental conducting.

Brennan has recorded numerous compact discs with the Mansfield University Bands, including one that included the world premiere of Brennan’s composition for band entitled Tenebrae (Dark Hours), American Portraits, Concord!, North Central Winds, Resonance, and Sun and Shade.

He started his career as Director of Bands at Kankakee Valley High School in Wheatfield, Indiana, and then joined Western Illinois University as Associate Director of Bands before his tenure at Mansfield. He received his doctorate in musical arts instrumental conducting in 2000.

The youngest of seven children who all attended Marian Catholic, Brennan found his second home at Marian.

“I spent every waking moment I could when I didn’t have to be in a classroom in that band room. Being there hours early and making a pest out of myself to Greg,” Brennan said.

Although he credits his parents for their influence on his life, Brennan said the impact of Marian Catholic has to be described as a spiritual one.

“That connection to God and the importance of God in my life has never left me. Being a teacher for 25 years has given me a deep appreciation for the Catholic education that I received. The religious foundation and my relationship with God have been very, very important to who I am,” Brennan said.

Dr. Brennan has also served as the percussion ensemble arranger and pit ensemble consultant for the World Champion Empire Statesmen Drum and Bugle Corps and was caption head of the DCI Class-A 60 Champion Northmen Drum and Bugle Corps. He is the Musical Director of America’s Ensembles and was the artistic director and arranger of the International Marine Tattoo of Rochester, New York. He is twice a past president of the Pennsylvania Collegiate Bandmaster’s Association and has been involved in 12 world premieres at Mansfield University. In 2007 he was inducted to the prestigious American Bandmaster’s Association. He continues an active career as a composer, conductor and percussionist-performer.

His professional memberships include the College Band Director’s National Association, the Music Educator’s National Conference and the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia National Music Fraternity, Tau Beta Sigma and Kappa Kappa Psi Band Fraternities (honorary member), and the Autism Society of America.

Brennan and his wife, Kate, live in Wellsboro, Penn. with their three children, Max, Ian and Maggie and are members of St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Wellsboro.


This award honors an alumna/alumnus, staff member or friend of Marian, who best exemplifies the Dominican traditions of unselfish service to others and outstanding contribution to Marian, his/her community, or church.

Sister Dorothy Marie Solak, O.P.

Chicago Heights, Illinois

Director of Recruitment, Marian Catholic High School

Sister Dorothy Marie Solak, O.P. may be short in stature but she is long in energy. She says she draws that energy from the students at Marian Catholic High School.

“Marian kids are special,” Sister Dorothy said. “I can love kids wherever I am, but it really is the Marian kids who are so special. They are happy to be here, and I think that is because of the Marian environment, because of the caring community.”

Sister Dorothy is a huge part of that caring community. If she is not scheduled to feed the homeless at a local shelter, Sister Dorothy will attend any Marian athletic competition or performance that she is able. When she isn’t in the stands or seats cheering students on, she can be found outside selling spirit wear rain or shine.

“I go to as many activities as I can because the kids like to know that we are there, rooting for them and interested in their activities,” she said.

Sister Dorothy grew up on the far Northwest side of Chicago before she attended the University of Michigan where she graduated with an undergraduate and master’s degrees in history. After her graduation, she taught in the Chicago Public School system for two years before she entered the Dominican Sisters of Springfield community in 1976. 

She then was assigned to several grade schools and was named administrator of the order’s retreat center in Springfield before she came to Marian in 1994. She started helping in the administrative offices at MCHS, but then was asked to take on the role of Recruitment Director, a job she has held ever since.

“As recruitment director it is my job to make sure that prospective students have a good idea what the school is all about: academics, athletics, fine arts, clubs and organizations and our leadership program,” she said.

Sister Dorothy makes personal visits to Catholic grade schools and attends as many high school fairs as possible. Her territory covers 75 different zip codes, including Indiana.

“I think because I love what I am doing, it is easy to be successful at it,” Sister Dorothy explained.

Sister is also the Service Club moderator, organizer and chaperone for yearly Appalachia mission trips, a leader at Operation Snowball, and one of the fencing coaches at Marian.

“Sister Dorothy Marie does so much for the Marian community, yet makes the heavy and complex workload she carries appears simple and easily achievable,” said Marian School Board President Michelle Feldner Lancaster ’77. “She brings smiles to everyone, makes those around her strive to be better just because they are in her presence; always makes time for anyone who needs her; and is dedicated and committed to the mission of Marian Catholic High School…She embodies the Spirit of Marian.”

Students are drawn to her and each is treated with respect and compassion. 

“Because of my interactions with the students, I have more hope and faith in the future,” Sister Dorothy said. “I find the students to be service oriented, academically oriented, kind to each other, and they have a good rapport with the adults in their lives, especially their teachers.”

Sister Dorothy lives in the convent at Marian Catholic High School with her fellow Dominican Sisters of Springfield. However, because of her passion for the Michigan Wolverines, she can often be found on the other side of the convent if the other Sisters are watching a Notre Dame game.